FOI release

Life in the UK test

We have received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the following: Any policy documents that contain an explanation…


We have received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the following:

  1. Any policy documents that contain an explanation or assessment of the benefits that the government believed would occur with the introduction of the Life in the UK test.

  2. Any documents concerning the impact that the introduction of the Life in the UK test would have on people who are disabled; people who cannot read or write and people who cannot afford to pay the test fees.

  3. A list of the names of the organisations consulted in relation to the introduction of the Life in the UK test.

We released the following information on 5 July 2010.  If you would like to receive a hard copy of any of these documents, please call the Information Services Centre on 020 7035 1029, quoting reference 15140.

  1. An explanatory memorandum to the British Nationality (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 specifies that the regulations make provision ‘for determining whether a person has sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.’ The written ministerial statement, question and answer briefing and key messages issued on 4 December 2006 provide further details of the scheme.  This includes the formal announcement to parliament.

  2. At the time when the decision to introduce the Life in the UK test was announced there was no requirement for us to conduct an equality impact assessment on the impact of new policies. However, we took fully into account difficulties that might be encountered.  The letter from the head of the social policy unit at the immigration and nationality directorate (now the UK Border Agency) confirms that issues relating to disability were taken into account in the planning stages.The testing regime complies with the Disability Discrimination Act. All test centres meet the requirements regarding accessibility.  All candidates for the test undergo a brief trial test to familiarise themselves with the format of the test and with the equipment.  High-visibility computer screens and audio are available if required, for example due to visual or literacy difficulties, and training can be given in operation of the test equipment.   Exemptions from taking the test may be granted to those with long standing permanent disabilities.   Individual advice on the need to take a test is available from the immigration enquiry bureau. The fee of £34 has remained the same since the test was introduced.  The test fee is a small proportion of the overall cost of obtaining citizenship (naturalisation) which currently stands at £735 for a single adult. 

  3. We consulted:

  • The former ‘Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Group’
  • The former Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration (ABNI). The ABNI was an independent advisory board that was established specifically to advise on the introduction of the test.
  • Membership of both the  ’Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Group’ and ABNI was drawn from leading experts in the fields of English language testing, citizenship training, employment of migrants and community development and integration.  Both groups consulted widely holding focus groups across the UK when the policies were being devised.
  • Ufi (formerly the University for Industry) developed the questions based on the contents of the handbook, ‘Life in the UK’.
Published 5 July 2010